As the title encapsulates, I am stuck in a junior role, with a boss who I feel has a negative attitude towards developing and training his team. This results in general unhappiness among my colleagues and myself. I am consequently in the process of looking for another job. However, it is a vicious circle, since the role I am in is fairly specialist, and I am finding, even similar job profiles tend to require more experience in the industry, or a broader set of skills, some of which I don't have.

I would like to know of an optimal strategy for convincing an employer of one's potential?

For example, how could someone convince an employer that the transferrable skills they possess would successfully substitute those they are lacking? What else are they looking for, aside from experience in the industry?

  • 1
    Unfortunately, this question is very opinion-based, and as such, Workplace may not be the best place to get a single, defining answer. If you could rephrase your question in a more specific manner, it would be possible to give you a better answer.
    – panoptical
    Mar 23 '14 at 15:36
  • @panoptical: I have edited this question, in an attempt to make this question more directed and specific.
    – CodeMaster
    Mar 23 '14 at 19:14
  • @JoeStrazzere: I am trying to gain skills in my own time, but I get up at 6am, and sometimes don't get back till 7pm, so it's a bit of a challenge, and a race against the clock.
    – CodeMaster
    Mar 23 '14 at 19:18
  • @JoeStrazzere: Yes, you have a point. I am sure that this is often the case, however, not everyone has the physiology for this kind of endurance - and I am unfortunately one of those people. But, perhaps it is a case of building up stamina.
    – CodeMaster
    Mar 23 '14 at 19:30
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    You understand that employers don't hire potential except at entry level. If you want to break out of this job the best thing you can do is gain more senior skills either on or off the job.
    – HLGEM
    Mar 23 '14 at 20:58

Excel in your current position

Exceed the expectations set for you where you are. If you are looking to be ambitious in the next position, you must be as ambitious as possible with your current one. This is always possible unless your employer has set unattainable expectations for you. It may be difficult to see how it is possible, but if you benchmark out what you do it shouldn't be difficult to find a couple of things that would make this possible.

Do things outside your current position that relate to the new one

If there are any tasks involved in the position you would like to pursue that are even remotely relevant to your current position, begin doing those things as much as possible. Make yourself available and obvious.

Talk to leadership

Your supervisor/manager should not be there to hold you back or to keep a stagnant team. If your boss is at all effective, he/she will want to do whatever it takes to help you achieve your goals within the company because making you better makes the company better. Talk with your supervisor. Tell him/her that you believe you can be so much more. Ask what you can do to prepare for the new position. Ask if your boss knows individuals who can help you prepare or guide you.

Talk to someone who actually holds the position (find a mentor)

Someone must be doing the job you're looking to get. Talk to someone and ask them what they did to get the qualifications to do the job. Ask them for pointers on how to accelerate those qualifications, pitfalls to avoid, even people to schmooze if it comes to that. Sometimes getting a start in a position you're not qualified for comes down to who you know that is willing to take a chance on you.

Seek help from friends

If you have any friends or acquaintances who can help you in this endeavor use those connections. Even if it's just having a friend whose sole assistance is helping to keep you focused while you attend classes to receive training. Don't be afraid or too proud to seek out this help. When the time comes, don't be stingy with helping them either.

No excuses

If this is what you want, then you have to make it yours. When reading your statement: However, due to the equally awkward hours, there is very little time to train myself, and learn new skills., it rings as an excuse to me. It may be that there is little time and juggling your schedule is difficult. But it's not impossible, so make it happen. It may mean that other parts of your life lose out while you accomplish this, but if this is what you want then you have to put the excuses away and get it done. Note: This part is not meant to be accusatory to OP. I don't know the specific challenges standing in the way. This section is meant as general advice to anyone in a similar position who seems to find one obstacle after another.


Pick something you are interested in and want to learn,

You can do online courses and do them at your own pace,

If you have Saturday off you can do a course. I used to do one.

Learn from books, the NET and anywhere else you can get the Info.

When you are ready to take the exam take it.

Most people do it this way to save cash.

Put your new qualifications you gain through time on your CV and pursue new jobs suited to you.

The other way is to find a trainee job somewhere and progress that way.

Both of the ways i mentioned work, but the latter may pay less cash.

  • Thanks both for your responses. I would mark them up, but I am not yet able to do this.
    – CodeMaster
    Mar 23 '14 at 18:24

I have found that I have been able to sharpen and grow my software engineering skills by making solid, positive contributions on Stack Overflow. I am definitely hooked on Stack Overflow and I am targeting for 1000 additional reputation points on Stack Overflow over the next 12 months :)

I have participated (and stuffed my face with free food) in 34 weekend hackathons since Jan 2013 and I am participating in my 35th next week. I credit the pressure to prepare for the weekend hackathons as well as diligently going over errors of omission and commission to my continuing improvement as a software engineer.

I have also joined 130 Meetups and 55 Linkedin groups and subgroups but that's another story for another day :) I'll just say that I am far more active in the Meetups (not all of them, though) than in the Linkedin groups and subgroups :)

Finally, as a sys engineer, I am no longer content to aim to be a devop. I have learned about Site Reliability Engineers, who are in the words of one Googler, rock star software engineers who want to be rock star systems engineers and vice versa. This is one step beyond devops and I want to take that step - I have never been rock star at anything and that's about to change :) I aim to be among the best of the best, and this ambition transcends whoever I work for at the moment :) I am probably burning the candle at both ends but hey, it's my life and that's how I want to live it ! :)

I also have additional options such as actively participating in challengepost.com, hackerleague.org or github.com projects. But my interest at the moment is health care projects :)

Yes, I have a lot on my plate but it's all exciting stuff to the only person that matters, and that's me :

Unless you work for Google, you can't depend on your job alone to bring you the skills and experience you need in the long term - not in this day and age :)

  • This is a nice answer - there are some excellent tips here.
    – CodeMaster
    Mar 24 '14 at 13:59

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